Monday, May 31, 2010

Pale blue dot shot again from space and battery for primitive organisms

Welcome! "Alien Life" tracks the latest discoveries and thoughts in the various elements of the famous Drake Equation. Here's today's news:
g Abodes - Two Japanese spacecraft, one headed to Venus and another limping home from an asteroid, have beamed home snapshots of Earth that reveal our planet in different hues amid a sea of stars. See article.
g Life - Researchers have discovered that a compound known as pyrophosphite may have been an important energy source for primitive organisms on the early Earth. See article.
g Cosmicus - NASA engineers have fully revived the far-flung Voyager 2 probe on the edge of the solar system after fixing a computer glitch that scrambled its messages home for nearly three weeks. See article.
g Learning - Aimed mostly at younger children, teaches budding young stargazers how to identify the different constellations, phases of the moon, planets, deep space, and more – including handy printouts to help them when the computers shut down!
g Imagining - Interest in extraterrestrial life has tended to focus on a search for extrasolar planets similar to the Earth. But what of forms of intelligent life that are very different from those found on Earth? Some features of life will not be peculiar to our planet, and alien life will resemble ours in such universals. But if intelligent, non-humanoid aliens exist, where might they be? Would they wish to visit Earth and would we know if they did? See article. Note: This article is from 2001.
g Aftermath - Book alert: The authentic discovery of extraterrestrial life would usher in a scientific revolution on par with Copernicus or Darwin, says Paul Davies in “Are We Alone?”: Philosophical Implications of the Discovery of Extraterrestrial Life.” Just as these ideas sparked religious and philosophical controversy when they were first offered, so would proof of life arising away from Earth. With this brief book (160 pages, including two appendices and an index), Davies tries to get ahead of the curve and begin to sort out the metaphysical mess before it happens. Many science fiction writers have preceded him, of course, but here the matter is plainly put. This is a very good introduction to a compelling subject.

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